NW is pacing the platform. “I didn’t see anything about engineering works online,” he frowns.
“Well, I assume track improvements don’t happen off the line,” I quip, hoisting my jeans up. NC has lost a shoe already and my left breast is agony as we have been waiting for a train for longer than it takes NG to choose breakfast cereal so NC has not had his mid morning snack. I am wearing maternity jeans as everything is in the wash and although it’s gratifying that they are now much too big for me, they are now MUCH TOO BIG FOR ME and so the tummy bit keeps slithering down. And I haven’t had coffee.
“It’s coming! It’s coming!” shouts NG, beating her tiny arms against her raincoat (did I mention it was raining).
This was NW’s idea. “Let’s take the children to see the boats,” he’d suggested brightly. And because Kate had been in Portsmouth that day trying to pretend it didn’t matter that Ben Ainslie hadn’t been able to join in a big race, I’d said ‘yes’. But now the track improvements, chest ache, baggy tummy bit and gale have taken the idea down a notch.
“That one goes to London,” says NW.
“To see the dinosaurs? Can we go with it?” NG says hopefully.
“On it. Can we go on it,” I correct.
“Yes. Can we? CAN WE GO WITH IT DADDY?” NG’s bottom lip trembles. It’s a fair bet that tears are mixed in with the rain that lashes her eyelids.
NW turns to me. “We’d have to be quick.”
“Will it have a buffet car?”
“It’s a Sunday, so n … yes. Yes, it will definitely have a buffet car,” says NW, sensing the female members of his family slowly melting down.
The train on the opposite platform has now taken on holy grail proportions. I point the buggy decisively towards the footbridge and we break into a commendable trot. NW warms to the idea as he spots an empty table through the steamed up windows. NG hasn’t fallen over yet. We might just make it.
But on the homeward slope of the bridge, the train starts to slouch away.
“Wave to the driver,” NW says encouragingly, crouching next to his daughter. I am humbled and cheered by my husband and two year old’s ability to see the best in a bad situation and so, to even things up a bit, I give the train the two fingered salute as it cruises past.
KEY TO CHARACTERS
Characters are abbreviated as follows:
NW – not William (husband and father)
NG – not George (daughter, sister and two and a half year old)
NC – not Charlotte (son, brother and four month old)
NL – not Lupo (a Labrador)